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Best 1-2 Punch in 2019 class: Linebackers

CLASS OF 2019 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position


Nolan Smith
Nolan Smith (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.

With 2019 in the rearview mirror, let’s take a look at the teams that brought in the best 1-2 punches at each position. Today, we continue with the linebackers.

RELATED: Best 1-2 QB punch in 2019 class | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL


1. GEORGIA  

The skinny: After reeling in the top inside linebacker and outside linebacker in the country, it is no surprise the Bulldogs rank as the best duo at the position. While Smith had been committed to the Bulldogs since January 2017, it was a much tougher job for the Georgia coaching staff to land Dean. At different times it looked as though he was leaning toward Alabama, LSU and Auburn, but during the Early Signing Period he solidified the Georgia linebacking corps of the future by committing to the Bulldogs. Also worth mentioning is that the Bulldogs further enhanced the position by adding Rian Davis, the No. 4 ILB in the class.

Farrell’s take: Smith plays defensive end in high school but can easily play linebacker as well and has shown that. He’s a hybrid guy and will be a terror off the edge. Dean is undersized but is a tackling machine who covers a ton of ground. This is a nasty duo.

2. LSU

The skinny: Pulling the five-star, Brooks out of Texas was a huge recruiting victory for the Tigers, while adding Starks from one of the Louisiana’s top programs was a cherry on top of the sundae at the position. Brooks, who committed to the Tigers over Alabama during the spring, has the natural athleticism to be an early contributor in Baton Rouge. Starks is more of a thumper inside who fits the Tigers’ aggressive style perfectly.

Farrell’s take: Brooks can cover a ton of space, he can track players down and he has a knack for making the big play. He should be a star in college if he stays healthy. Starks is more of a hitter and a guy who does his best work moving forward, so he will add physicality to the group. This is a dynamic duo at linebacker for LSU.

3. AUBURN

The skinny: Pappoe began reeling in elite offers during his freshman season in high school, so pulling him out of the state of Georgia was a big win for the Tigers. It should also help Auburn at Grayson High School, which has become one of the top producers of FBS talent in the country in recent years. Hall’s addition was a surprise to many, as both Mississippi State and Ole Miss worked overtime to try and keep the four-star home. However, on signing day he spurned both programs and signed with Auburn.

Farrell’s take: Pappoe isn’t the biggest linebacker, but he’s a quick-twitch kid who can run plays down and blitz off the edge. Hall is a huge linebacker who can take on blockers and disrupt passing lanes with his size and length. These two complement each other very well.


4. ALABAMA 

The skinny: Physically, Lee already looks prepared to play in the SEC. And over the last two years he has also improved his agility, which gives him the potential to be a big playmaker for the Tide down the road. Mwikuta brings a different set of abilities to the table, as his long frame should only get more and more impressive during his time in Tuscaloosa. Committed to the Tide since 2017, Mwikuta may be one of those players who takes a year or two to mature, but once he does he has the potential to dominate.

Farrell’s take: Lee is a pure inside linebacker with power who will blow up plays at the line of scrimmage, while Mwikuta is a bit more raw, but in the long run can cover more space on the outside. Each player has an excellent upside.

5. OHIO STATE 

The skinny: This may be more of an under-the-radar duo compared to the top four programs on this list, but both players have the ability to contribute early in Columbus. Stover, who committed last spring, steadily improved his game over the last two years to the point where he finished in the Rivals 100. Eichenberg initially committed to Boston College, but then flipped to the Buckeyes in early December. He was actually the first commitment for the Buckeyes after Ryan Day officially took over for Urban Meyer.

Farrell’s take: Both Stover and Eichenberg are heady players who love to get physical and are sure tacklers. They are very coachable and should be plug-and-play guys when needed. They will increase the toughness at the position for Ohio State.